Their reputation preceded their record contract, thanks to various international magazines; this even made it hard to record their album. "We used ten different studios," recalls Lawless, "each for a different thing we wanted to try." Holmes, however, remembers at least once when moving on wasn't their idea. They'd arranged to record at a certain studio "on spec," which meant giving a piece of the action to the studio in exchange for a block of time. "The guy who owned the studio didn't know who we were, and when he found out, he thought we were in there breaking windows and stuff!" W.A.S.P. got the heave-ho the next day.
But getting back to what the band projects on a real stage, Lawless defends the group's image-mongering:
"Sure, we did our homework; it is calculated. But since we did prepare so well, we're confident and relaxed when we go onstage- we're not worrying about it, so we can have fun!
"And," he continues, "we do. People can say that they don't like our songs, but nobody can say we're phony, 'cause we're having too good a time!" And the look of glee he wears as he's about to commit some onstage "atrocity" isn't simulated-the man loves his work.
"Some people even think we're high on anything from junk to alcohol out there," he muses, "but I don't need any artificial stimulant to do that. I'm a workaholic; when I'm not working I'm not happy, I'm like a fish out of water. We're having a ball onstage, and if you've gotta get high to do that, you don't love what you're playing."
Getting looped before doing a W.A.S.P. gig could also prove lethal. "It's a very dangerous show. If you're in the wrong place at the wrong time, you're gonna get your ass blown off, or just get hurt by what you're wearing." Lawless has been hurt onstage- "a chunk taken out of my leg" in Japan, a half inch-deep gash in his brow in California-but it'd be far worse if he didn't consistently take the stage in total control of his faculties.
Sometimes the problems are embarrassing but ultimately harmless, like the time in England when his codpiece broke and fell off, leaving him- well, exposed. He felt awkward, to be sure, but also "proud, in a way. I was told they could tell the full extent of, y'know, what had happened all the way from the back of this three thousand seat hall. 'Hey' they said, he is kosher!'"
Other times, the hazards have nothing to do with the stage devices or clothing, but rather the audience. Lawless is thrilled that the audiences get so pumped up by the show that they can go a little bonkers, as they apparently did in Finland.
"You know the thing I do with the raw meat? It's right before we do 'Animal (Fuck like a Beast)'. Anyway, the kids in Helsinki brought their own meat! I get to the part where I say, 'If you fuck like a beast, you must be an animal,' which is where Chris starts the song. But I hear a roar, and no music. So I look around and there he is, flat on his back, out cold. Some kid had hit him in the head with a rump roast!!"
And so ends this month.'s tale of show-business evil from this year's
answer to Alice Cooper and Kiss-- W.A.S.P.'s own Blackie Lawless.